The Power of Negotiating

Have you ever wondered what’s negotiable? The simple answer is everything is!! Yet not everyone uses the power of negotiation to get what they want or what they deserve.

Some of the most common areas that negotiation comes into mind is for a job salary, or maybe for major purchases like a car or house. But not everyone may realize other things you can negotiate, so I’ve compiled a list to give you some ideas and to get you thinking on creative ways you could negotiate these items.💡

1. Electronics

2. Furniture

3. Medical bills

4. Fees such as interest rates, overdraft, late fees, etc.

5. Job title

6. Job benefits package

7. Real estate

8. Renovations

9. Income tax

10. Services of any kind

11. Food

12. Education

13. Credit card debt

Now that I’ve got your wheels turning, I know there are really 3 types of negotiation tactics to consider.
1) People who believe they cannot negotiate or quietly take the first offer fearful of missing out.
2) People who aim high and believe in splitting the difference to come to terms.
3) People that are ready to speak up with valid points to support what they want and are not afraid to stand firm or walk away if needed.

The 2nd option is great for someone who is new to negotiating, however, option 3 is what you should be aiming to reach. Your first few will always be a little rocky, but as you practice and win a few, you will start gaining confidence and figuring out your personal negotiation style.

Then you can start coming to the table with 2-3 facts clearly outlined to support your side. It’s very important to master the art of knowing when to present them and then knowing when to stop talking, sit quietly, even with awkward silence, and wait for their response to your request. The worst that can happen is they say no. Which a no is your opportunity to be prepared to thank them and walk away. No usually means not right now, but you will be surprised how many of these “no’s” will turn into “I’m listening now” in a few days or weeks time, when the other side realizes your offer was strong and they will respect your ability to stand firm. Mindset is key because if you don’t believe you deserve it then nobody else will believe it and they will see right through you, so start by always knowing your worth and never compromising on it.

Keep in mind also that not all negotiations involve money either. For example, sometimes time may be on the table, such as in real estate. I was able to make a lower cash offer because I also knew that I was able to close in under a week, which made my offer strong. Time is also something that can be negotiated in a benefits package if you are offered a certain amount of time off in a benefits package..you can always ask for more!

One of my most random negotiations included 8 month pregnant me at a car dealership with a craving and making sure they added a pizza on top of all the other items I wanted on my SUV. I am a believer that if you aren’t asking, you could quite literally be leaving food on the table.🤰🏼🍕

One of my favorite recent wins was the $12k below asking I was able to negotiate on our recent home purchase. I used time as my offering instead. I knew he had an offer above what I put in by $2,000, but I told him I was able to close quickly. Turns out he wanted the guarantee of a quick close (in 4 days) more than the $2,000 and waiting for that other person to gather their funds and possibly not being able to.

Share your negotiation wins with me!👇🏼👇🏼

My Debt Free Year In Review

Let me start by saying that losing $165,000 in debt FEELS REAL GOOD..like REALLY REALLY GOOD. This may be one of the top reasons that I keep shouting about the debt free community and trying to recruit all of you to join me. Believe me when I say that a debt free head just hits the pillow different at night.

So I’ve now had a whole year to reflect on my decision to get out of debt and wanted to share three things from my reflection with you. So keep reading to learn why I got out of debt, how I got out of debt and how I have and will continue to keep the debt off.

THE WHY-YOLO..so that was my mentality back in my late teens and twenties, but I interpreted it wrong. I thought it meant that I should party it up, buy what I wanted when I wanted it, and just be making minimum payments for a lifetime..the American Dream. Pay for everything on credit and work until my mid sixties and make jokes with everyone else along the way about how “I will never pay these student loans off” or “At this rate I will be working until I die”. Looking back, YOLO now means to me that you in fact only live once. So live the life you want and not the life society tells you to. Figure out your own path and your own way to to make a living.

THE HOW-I contribute 3 things to my how. One being a mindset shift. If you don’t first believe that you can be debt free and that you also deserve the freedom of a debt free life, then no budget or even a large sum of money will be able to help you. The second was zero budgeting during the payoff. This just means that I literally took every additional penny that I had and put it to work for me paying off the debt. I turned down a lot of stuff during this time, including eating out or going on a bunch of trips. I got dramatic with my expenses and cut them down to the bare minimum. (or so I thought) Then I woke up one day and realized that I was making excuses for some expenses that weren’t necessary, such as two newer cars that we didn’t need, and an SUV that sucked down the gas. I was also still budgeting for clothes, hair and makeup. When I cut down to the ACTUAL needs..I found out that none of that stuff was included. Actual needs are just that..basic food, shelter and transportation are it…period. So once I got rid of all the excess through a No Spend Year and getting rid of the cars, things really started to accelerate. The 3rd item that helped was the debt snowball method. Every single extra penny went towards the smallest debt, paid that off, then rolled that into the next smallest, and just kept going. When I got towards the end, I also dabbled with the debt avalanche for a student loan that had a high interest rate.

KEEP IT OFF-I have come across a lot of temptations now being debt free, including getting an itch for a new car occasionally or to upgrade in other ways. I think it’s human nature and it’s hard to deprogram from a lifetime of consumerism and instant gratification. It would be very easy to get led right back down that dirt road to debt. But I’m proud to say we haven’t. I ultimately switched from zero budgeting to value based budgeting. So now, if it’s something I value, such as my family, health, or education, then I will spend the money on it. When you know your values and align your spending with them, then you will notice that most of the items that require consumer debt don’t fit anywhere in the budget. The occasional big items, like upkeep for our family home, just require me to save up until we can pay cash for them, and we keep that emergency fund for the unexpected. The rest, like family and education usually are worth the most yet cost the least to add value in my life.

So as you can see..no get out of debt quick scheme or magical inheritance or lottery winner over here. Just some boring stuff that paid off in our current lives and will continue to do so over the long term as we head down a trail we are blazing on our own that builds wealth.

Review Of Our First BRRRR

We are now onto the Final R in the Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance, Repeat, so I wanted to share the final numbers and the many of newbie mistakes that were made on our first BRRRR. Let’s start with the final numbers.

Purchase Price: $37,500

Repairs/Holding/Closing Costs: $55,400

Total of our money left in the deal: $12,000

Appraisal: $100,000 (We are still in shock that it came in this low, as we were expecting more in the $110-$125k range)

Ideally, the whole point of the BRRRR method is to end up with instant equity and be able to pull out all or a portion of your money so you can use it for the next deal. Well, we are leaving ALL of our money in the deal and we ended up doing 85% LTV instead of 75%. Ouch..that really BRRRNs. (see what I did there) Am I saltier than the sea about how it turned out and the appraisal coming in super low? I sure am. BUT we also learned SO MUCH that we wouldn’t have if we didn’t go through this process. So, I wanted to share it all with you to ensure you don’t make the same rookie mistakes that we did on your first BRRRR.

1. We went through a wholesaler. Which means we paid for their services of finding and negotiating this off-market deal. We could have easily saved around $10,000 if we would have gone direct to the seller and took out the middle man during the acquisition process.

2. We subbed out all of the work. This means that we did not put in any sweat equity, except that one time I stood in the pedestal sink and painted the bathroom just out of stubbornness and not liking the color. Sweat equity is one of the ways we could have saved big on costs, but we would have had to spend our time, so there is always a trade-off either way. After reviewing all of the work that was done, we could have easily saved another $5,000-$10,000.

3. We used a hard money loan, and in exchange we paid a lot in holding costs. Next time we will explore other ways to fund the deal that don’t come with such high costs, such as a HELOC or private money. Holding costs were even moreout of control with COVID related delays, but we could have saved another $2,500 at minimum if we didn’t have such high holding costs.

4. I am just going to be honest here..we dropped the ball big time on the market analysis. I am not an expert, nor did I consult one and just went with what I was seeing online and didn’t research the appraisal process. If I had my real estate license and could have pulled comps, then I could have been more familiar with the area ahead of time. I would have been more conservative on the appraised value we expected to get back and that would have had an impact on all of the other numbers we ran. I also feel like there were a few things that we could have tweaked during the renovation to get a better appraised value. Overall, there was probably another $10,000 in equity we may have missed out on here.

What Went Right

Now that we have discussed the doom and gloom and all that money we left on the table, lets switch gears to what went right.

1. WE LEARNED. You can read all of the books, listen to all of the podcasts, and follow all of the most amazing Instagram accounts out there, but there is no substitute for hands on experience. We now know the entire process and have broken every aspect of it, so we now know how to fix it for next time.

2. WE EXPECTED TO LEARN. Since we knew it was our first BRRRR and major renovation, we were hoping for the best but also planned for the worst. We are OK leaving our money in the deal.

3. WE GREW OUR NETWORK. We had to find all of the necessary resources for each step of the BRRRR process. For this one deal, we worked with a wholesaler, hard money lender, general contractor, a few subcontractors, real estate attorney, loan officer, and property manager.

4. WE HAVE ANOTHER CASHFLOWING ASSET. After it’s all said and done, our monthly mortgage will be around $690. We are getting $1100 in rent each month. Since we replaced all cap ex items during the renovation, we shouldn’t have to worry about anything major needing replaced right away. After all expenses, we are bringing in $250 a month in cashflow on this one. I will take it!

Am I ready for our next BRRRR? I’m honestly not sure if we will continue with this strategy or switch it up, but I am ready for our next house. We have some ground to make up for since 2020 has been a shit show of a year so far on many levels. But for our real estate business, we still have a goal to double our doors from 3 to 6 this year, so we will definitely have to get creative to accomplish this. Let me know if you have any ideas to share with me to help us double our doors!

A REAL Behind The Scenes on Real Estate Investing

As a new real estate investor, I am always seeking out information and I do a lot of reading of posts on social media and blogs. I like to see the real life posts that cover the good, the bad, the mistakes, and the realities of the work put in by more seasoned investors. Much like all aspects of social media sharing, I find myself constantly seeing fantastic results and amazing deals and cashflow number. Someone that just bought a 3/2 duplex that cost them $70k and only needs $5k of work and will rent for $1500. Like “too good to be true, one lucky deal of a lifetime” kind of numbers and that’s about it. (Keep in mind that just because someone says they are an investor, doesn’t mean they are a good investor or giving good advice, so make sure to do your due diligence, even as you read through my posts)

There are a few accounts out there that cover it, but I rarely see mistakes or major setbacks being posted. So where’s the real life? The mistakes you made in estimating expenses? Those houses you have sitting vacant and can’t find a tenant, or the ones that still have a tenant in that’s not paying rent? The missed day of playing outside with your kids because you’re putting in work again?

Welp, don’t worry..I got you. The past few weeks have been filled with a hell of a lot of reality over here. To start, we have dealt with our first money pit. It just keeps having one thing after another pop up, including electrical issues, plumbing issues, and a flooded basement after we received 9 inches of rain. They have all been little things but they are starting to add up and wear us down, along with the tenant. We have also dealt with our first three day notice for eviction due to a lack of cooperation and nonpayment. We have since received partial payment and are working on the remainder of May rent, BUT tomorrow is a new month, and let’s be real, not expecting things to be any different for this tenant who is currently laid off due to COVID-19 and says they are waiting on checks. We had to enlist legal help with all the COVID-19 to make sure we could even explore eviction right now. We have also dealt with finding a potential flip with our first partner, then we put an offer in on it, only to realize there’s a bunch of folks out there ready to overpay and it received multiple offers over asking. Lastly, I got to spend a gorgeous day stuck on my laptop spending hours gathering documents for the lender on our cash out refi.

This time for us in our investing business has been scary, exhausting, hard, and educational to say the least. This post is also not meant to discourage you by any means. I still believe in the power of real estate and just want to help you be prepared for the “when it rains it pours” that you will inevitably go through in your investing journey. So, how are we surviving it?

The 3 M’s-Mindset, Money, and Management

Mindset-I will keep it short and sweet. I will take a rainy day in the real estate game any day over sitting on the sidelines. I still feel GRATEFUL even on the worst days to be where we are today with our rentals.

Money-Reserves. This is why they tell you to PLAN AHEAD and have your money right, so it becomes annoying not devastating to your business. Luckily, we were ready for everything that has hit us financially, and are ready for whatever other rain or flooding (literally) that comes our way next.

Management-Also keeping this short and sweet..our property manager has helped us tremendously with all the issues above, and while we could have done everything on our own, I wouldn’t have wanted to. Having a great team is WORTH EVERY PENNY.

So there you go..reality and my reaction, and keeping it real that it’s not all cashflow and smiles every day. I hope this helps others understand a real behind the scenes of real estate investing!

6 quick tips on budgeting

Man..it’s crazy to me that it’s 2020 and there are still folks running around rogue with their finances, thinking it’s not going to catch up with them. Several recent studies show that only about 40% of people are living that budget life. 😱

I have personally been living with a budget for over a decade, and I can promise you that this is one of, if not the biggest contributing factor to my current debt free and wealth building chapter of my life. I would definitely still be living beyond my means without a budget.

There is no better time then right now to put the money you make to work..and that money isn’t going to get to work without your help. So do me a favor, and if you are in the 60% of people who don’t currently budget, then make a pinky swear to yourself to start ASAP…after reading my quick tips of course. 😉

Tip 1-Live off of a zero budget. That’s a fancy way of saying that every single penny you have incoming should have a home for where it needs to go. The key to this is to assign your money jobs BEFORE you’re eyeballing that delivery menu on an empty stomach or you’re clicking on that BOGO sales ad that just landed in your inbox. So a few days before the month starts, you can sit down and map out your incoming vs outgoing. Mind that gap with some investing and savings. Which brings me to my next point.

Tip 2-Have a goal you are working towards. Whether it’s building your savings up, paying off debt, or investing in index funds to work towards financial freedom..you will be more successful minding the gap if you have short term and long term financial goals in place. Don’t let lack of planning cause you to live with a YOLO mentality..it’s true..you only live once..so get your shit together already. Nobody wants to keep hearing your “I’m broke and just barely getting by because they don’t pay me enough” talk, yet you’re driving a new car, eating out, constantly getting new clothes/AmazonPrime packages and texting your money problems on the latest IPhone. (sorry for being a little harsh..but seriously..someone had to say it)

Tip 3-Speaking of planning..plan for the unexpected. I’m talking about having enough in your savings to cover a bigger item, like a new transmission, your HVAC suddenly breaking down, your car insurance deductible from an accident, or taking your dog to the vet after they ate something crazy again. I don’t have time to get into details here on what’s considered unexpected, but if you have to ask if it’s an emergency..it’s not. Also, stuff that is recurring, like personal property taxes or Christmas gifts are NOT unexpected. You knew all damn year they were coming up..you should have separate money you’re putting back to plan for these annual recurring expenses.

Tip 4-Check for trends and opportunities. For example, if you are noticing a large chunk of your money is going towards gas, then it might be time to explore a more fuel efficient ride. If you are spending over $100 each time you hit up Target, then it might be time to keep your ass out the store. Luckily, there are other ways to shop now, including carryout or delivery, so that could possibly help keep you to the items you need vs want. Also, if you find yourself doing a great job, like going two weeks without eating out..then celebrate. Rewarding yourself (within reason) for good behavior is a great way to train yourself on new spending habits.

Tip 5-Give yourself a cash allowance. Let’s be honest..little things come up and having some cash on hand is a great way to take care of these little things. For example, if you slept like crap and really NEED a Starbucks latte..go get yourself one. Or the neighbor kid hits you up for buying some Girl Scout cookies, and nobody can say no to those Caramel Delights, nor should they say no. Much like crash diets, budgets don’t work if they are so strict that you feel deprived, week after week, month after month. This will make you more likely to fall off the budgeting bandwagon, so plan to allow a little flexibility sometimes.

Tip 6-Make it easy. Budgeting is a long term wealth building strategy..not a get rich quick scheme..remember that as you set things up. Keep it simple and keep evolving as you and your needs change. Setting up autopay on everything is about as easy as it gets for your fixed expenses. Also, for tracking, I used a paper check register up until last year..lol. BUT it was easy and worked for me. Now I have a word doc that lists out all my recurring expenses, along with an app called Spending that tracks all incoming/outgoing expenses. Don’t get so caught up in trying to figure out the details to a point where you don’t ever start. Any way you track is better than not tracking at all..so get to it already.

You know I am happy to share my tracker if interested and answer questions, so ask away.

Reflecting on 2019

There will be a whole 365 days in 2019 for us to have set goals, have taken action, worked hard, and to have crushed those goals. Year end is a great time to throw modesty out the door and recognize how great your year was and how awesome you are for all that was accomplished.   If you did the work, then I don’t care who you are, you deserve to celebrate, so go on..brush your shoulders off.

If you instead stayed on the couch all year again, and your biggest accomplishment was only gaining 10 lbs from all the junk you ate while binge watching all the Netflix original series..well then..might be good to reflect on that also.   Still playing the “victim of your situation” game and convincing yourself that you can’t change or grow because “insert your excuse here”.  Did that binge or pity party help you or hurt you?

Not trying to brag below I promise you..just trying to prove that you CAN do big things if you set big goals and are ready to take action and put in the work.   You can and should think differently about life and the pursuit of happiness..question things and don’t just do what everyone else is doing because it’s easy.  Also, I’m sharing some stuff that makes me feel vulnerable and gives a private look into some events in my life over the past year.

If you’re not ready to grow and celebrate success, then please stop reading this and head back to your latest Netflix binge. If you are ready, but not sure where to start, start by grabbing a pen and paper and write down everything you accomplished this year that makes you feel proud to tell others and makes you feel like you have grown as a person.  Then go share it with the world!!

See my list below:  My 2019 Accomplishments

  1. Started MySemiBasicLife.com blog and InstaGram account
  2. Grew organically from 150 followers to 1250 followers
  3. Helped teaching my youngest to read and my oldest to read and rehearse lines for a major part in a play
  4. Bought 1st rental property end of March 2019
  5. Bought 2nd rental property in August 2019
  6. Bought 3rd rental property in December 2019 (this one with a full cosmetic rehab)
  7. Was a guest on not one, but two podcasts, and submitted an idea to one of my favorite podcasts, and got to speak with the producer and provide input on a new series (can’t share any more info..sworn to secrecy..lol)
  8. Became debt free after selling our cars and paying off the remaining of our $165,000 in consumer debt. Nobody to impress now that I’ve changed my value system and if I don’t have the cash for it, then I’m not buying it.
  9. Completed a No Spend Year of no clothes, shoes, accessories, purses, makeup, haircuts/dye. Turns out I don’t give a shit what others think of me after all, and I don’t need makeup or new clothes to try and impress anyone.  “Letting myself go” in the eyes of society by not wearing makeup, rocking my grey hair, and not buying the latest clothing trends feels a lot more like getting comfortable in my own skin.  I’ve never felt prettier on the inside and out then I do right now.  I also learned to cut my own hair..not getting accepted into cosmetology school anytime soon..lol, but I can do it and it’s fun and free.
  10. Joined a real estate mastermind group and joined a local real estate investors group and have networked and made several great connections in the industry
  11. Attempted my first seller finance deal (didn’t work out but was a great learning experience and made some new connections in the process)
  12. Helped land a few really big accounts at work that required a lot of work and were out of my comfort zone
  13. Was matched with a little sister through Big Brothers/Big Sisters and continued to volunteer on the family selection committee for Habitat for Humanity
  14. Survived a lot of loss including losing a good friend to glioblastoma, losing my dog of 17 years, losing a terminal puppy we adopted, a dwarf hamster, and a pet rat. Lastly, there was an advanced stage breast cancer diagnosis for my mom with lots of biopsies, dr visits, chemo rounds, lots of soups/casseroles and will be leading in to surgery/radiation/hormone replacement in 2020.
  15. Started a gratitude journal that I write in every night.
  16. Started a daily morning meditation and manifesting the life I want practice.
  17. After my leg injury finally healed, was back up to running over 5 miles until I got bit by the neighbor’s dog..lol
  18. Stopped two nasty habits that I have battled on/off for years, smoking and drinking.  I still occasionally have a beer or drink, but not like I used to and have been smoke free since 6/1/19!!  I’m now focused on enjoying my current situation more and building a life I don’t need to escape from.  No judgment to my friends that are still doing these things..just doesn’t fit in my life any longer.
  19. I read 45 books this year!!
  20. Experienced 6 figure net worth growth through all of the above focus, hustle and sacrifice

Wow..I DID ALL OF THAT IN ONE YEAR??!!  I did notice that I didn’t have as much of a focus on my marriage or kids this past year, and plan to make sure I am placing more focus on those areas of my life in 2020.  Of all of those accomplishments, I am most proud of the self love and belief that I can do anything..because clearly I can after seeing my list!!  Also, with the belief in myself, I have noticed my risk tolerance is completely different.  I am ready to take on risks instead of turning away from them, because I know I will learn and grow from any mistakes, so bring them on!

Did you write a list of goals at the beginning of 2019 that you can compare your end of 2019 accomplishments to?  If not, no worries, because  I didn’t write any goals out at the beginning of the year either.  2020 marks the beginning of a new decade and new opportunities to start fresh for all of us.  Make it the year you stop saying “someday” and finally replace it with today.

Anyone else brave enough to share their year in review??!!

BRRRR it’s getting cold in here 🥶

I know I know..I’m sure everyone is thinking there must be some Toros in the atmosphere comes next?! Or maybe I’m the only old ass nerd still out here quoting Bring It On, which by the way, happens to be a classic cheerleading movie. 📣 🎥

Ok focus..it IS super cold and snowing hard here in Kansas City today, so it’s perfectly timed to talk about BRRRR, which is why we are all here (not from the cheerleaders movie or cold weather, but the real estate investing version). The strategy has been around for a minute, but the guys from BiggerPockets hold the clever naming rights I believe.

I am SO SO SO PUMPED UP to be getting after our very first house using the BRRRR method. So I wanted to explain this strategy very high level, and how it can be a great way for investors to grow a portfolio of buy and hold properties quickly, and with little of their own money tied up in the deal long term. Clearly I’m a newbie and can only speak to what I’ve researched/read/listened to, and what real life has brought my way so far, but thought I could at least introduce the concept to other newbies.

The premise is a way to use little of your own money while growing a buy and hold portfolio. In its simplest form, it stands for buy, rehab, rent, refinance, then repeat. We are still in the “buy” phase of ours, set to close this week, and excited to move into the rehab piece and plan to share the full details once we wrap up this project. We are going to just use some rough numbers here as an example.

Let’s say you find a distressed house or a homeowner who needs to get out fast of their current home. There’s lots of ways to find these deals, which I’m not going to cover in this post, but will save for another day. The distressed home or owner is an opportunity for you to help solve their problem and to buy their house from them. You would aim to acquire low, due to current condition of the home, taking into consideration all of the repair costs, and your ability to close fast. You would also need to make sure all of the numbers truly work for a BRRRR. But let’s say you can get this house for $30k and it needs an additional $30k in renovations. You use your own money, private money or hard money for the initial purchase and rehab (also lots of funding options I will also save for another post).

You know from looking at comps in the area (not houses for sale, but comparable houses that have already sold recently) that the ARV, or “after repair value” is around $100k. You have also checked average rents in the area, and know it will rent for $1,000 a month. So, after you rehab it and rent it out, then you go to a traditional bank for a cash out refinance on the property at $75k, and you pay yourself or your private money lender back and you now have none of your own money tied up in the deal and have acquired an asset with 25% instant equity. You have a tenant placed and are now cashflowing a few hundred bucks a month after your mortgage/expenses. You also walk away with a $7,500-10,000 profit (after closing/holding costs).

You keep repeating this process until you get to your buy and hold end game number, whatever that is for you. Work until the cashflow covers your monthly expenses to live, then you can sit back and enjoy your time freedom from your rental portfolio, or you never quit…completely up to you. 🤷‍♀️

I know I’ve simplified the process, but that was my intent. There are a TON of resources out there, including lots of investors using this strategy and sharing their successes/learnings, lots of podcasts, and even some books, so go do your research and dive deeper to fully understand. I would also love to hear input from others out there who are ice cold BRRRR experts. I just love this strategy and I hope sharing from my real estate investing toolkit will help you either get interested in getting into real estate, or help you to strengthen your current investing game.

No Spend Year Update

Brief recap of the one decision that I made back in January that has literally changed my life. It has created a snowball effect and has really helped me reset, basically like a “financial cleanse”. I made the decision to not buy certain things for the entire year of 2019, including clothes, shoes, accessories, purses, makeup and also gave up hair dye, products and haircuts.

I was doing REALLY REALLY good with it and staying strong and not missing anything and in fact finding myself in the process. (mainly by avoiding stores and unsubscribing to all the emails) Lately though, I have definitely been struggling to stay motivated and the consumeritis can sometimes feel contagious. 😷

I know I justified and bought sunglasses a few months back when mine broke, and if we’re being real honest, I could have worn one of the random cheapo pairs lying about my house, like the ones I got at a conference with built in bottle openers on the sides..lol. I also caught myself borderline begging my husband to tell me it’s ok to buy some used earbuds from a neighbors garage sale. 😂 Then there was this past weekend at Target where I was getting a few toiletries and a new nail polish jumped into my cart. 💅🏻

See below..they are both cute and will last me for years to come. 🤷‍♀️

It’s not about the $14 collective dollars that I’ve spent this year that if you want to get all technical..are totally on my banned items list. It’s more about me losing my way and my why in the process.

Life has been throwing a bit of a difficult season my way, and it’s easy to fall back into old ways and “things” to make me feel better. But I still ultimately know it’s only a temporary feeling and it’s a VERY slippery slope. The long term mindset shift is more important to me than the temporary gratification followed quickly by buyers remorse. So I’m committed to getting back on track, especially knowing that we are entering into the biggest spending season. Since it’s my first one on my new path, wondering if anyone has any tips on how to get through it without buying all the things. 🤔

Lifestyle Choices

This is going to be one of the hardest topics yet to cover at a very high level and also my first mention of FIRE in my writings (financial independence retire early). My goal is just to inform you of two choices and get you rethinking, especially if you feel like you don’t have choices and are stuck in your current financial position. I am by no means claiming to be an expert on the topic or to get into the HOW in this post. I have just dabbled with both lifestyles mentioned and I feel like there are not enough people (especially women) who are thinking about or providing information on the topic..so looks like you are stuck with me. 😜

The above picture is the best way I could summarize the concept of lifestyle creep. For now, as mentioned, this is just to introduce you to the topic, so I have a few stats and thought provoking questions to hopefully do so.

First..the stats tell an alarming story. I recently read in this USA Today article https://amp.usatoday.com/amp/34378157 that the average household is bringing in around $75,000 annually, and of that, they are spending 90% of it, which equates to $67,500 outgoing and only around $7,500 extra annually. (which the article states a lot of this is going towards interest payments on consumer debt). This breaks down to $5,625 in expenses each month and $625 extra. That doesn’t leave much wiggle room and helps paint a picture as to why people aren’t putting anything or very little towards saving, investing, emergency funds and retirement. 😳

Essentially pointing out that people are living a paycheck to paycheck lifestyle. I don’t know that this was a surprise to any of us, but it may be a surprise that people are making the choice everyday with their actions and spending habits to live this way. Disclaimer that there are people living in poverty, so for the sake of my post, I am referring to the middle class mentioned above.

Now on to the questions. Feel free to answer in comments if you want to share, or just answer to yourself or as an internal conversation or with your significant other. Keep it real because denial is a great way to protect yourself from the truth right now, but long term in fact it just ends up hurting you more.

1) Are you living paycheck to paycheck like the scenario mentioned above?

2) Have you noticed that no matter what you do, you just can’t get ahead?

3) Do you receive regular raises or have you changed jobs to make additional money over the course of your career, yet you aren’t seeing a difference in your monthly budget after expenses because they always seem to match what’s coming in?

4) Do you ever pay attention to how much you spend on conveniences like pre-made food, someone to mow your lawn, someone to clean that big house, someone to wash that new car, someone to groom your dog, someone to do your hair/nails/makeup, etc because you are too busy working to do these things?

5) Have you ever wondered why things are like this for you and probably a lot of people you know, yet it’s still a taboo topic to discuss money, so everyone just keeps working harder and staying in the vicious cycle mentioned above?

6) What will happen if you change nothing and keep following this path?

Please reference the above picture as you are going through these questions to see if lifestyle creep has found a way to creep into your life. Remember..be honest.

Next, know that there is another option. As mentioned above, lifestyle creep is a choice and I’ve said this so many times on purpose. So many think they have no choice unless they make more money and this is far from the truth.

Lifestyle creep is a path that many in our society have walked and not challenged until recent years. Here are some questions to ask yourself and see if you’re one of those ready to challenge the traditional path and choose a different way.

1) What upsets you the most about always being broke and living paycheck to paycheck?

2) How has constantly feeling stressed from working so much and not having any money to show for it affected you?

3) What are your values and what are you spending your money on? Do they line up?

4) What are your passions and what do you dream about doing?

5) What could change if you have an open mind and put in the work, I mean really put in the work, to change your current financial path and mindset? Think of one quick and easy way you can change today.

6) What will happen if you start to live a lifestyle designed by you instead of others?

As mentioned, a lot of people have started looking at the above stats and questions, and are starting to make the decision to customize their lifestyle based on their own unique values, not what society tells them to value. Spoiler alert..it’s not through making more money as mentioned above..it has never been about that. It’s about a lifestyle of being content with only those things that bring you value. Luckily, it usually don’t cost anything at all, just the basics needed like food, shelter, experiences and none of the extra crap. 😊

Don’t get this lifestyle design twisted with a life of going without, because it’s actually the opposite of that. You have room for so much more when you let go of stupid shit.

Well..shocker..I have lots more to say but I’ve said enough for one day. What are your thoughts or questions on the two different paths mentioned above?

8 ways to eat out for less

Chipotle is my weakness and I love everything about it..except that it would cost my family around $750 a month if we ate it for dinner every night. 🤑

So we try to limit it to be a once a month treat, and try to find ways to make it even more affordable than it already is. Today, we got 6 servings of food for $16.72!! I also got enough napkins for both of our car glove boxes for the next few months..lol.

But while I was ordering today, I thought about some different ways that you can save money while eating out, no matter what you’re craving.

1. Don’t eat out at all..and if you’re like me and know that not eating out at all is a recipe for disaster, then limit it to once or twice a month and budget for it. (if I don’t eat out at all, then I will fall HARD off the wagon and go on a wildly expensive and unhealthy eating out binge)

2. Eat before hand. Yes you read that right..grab a snack first so you aren’t ordering more than you need or super sizing because you’re starving. Or if you’re eating out for dinner, make sure you had a good lunch that day.

3. Does everyone really need a meal or at minimum..their OWN meal? Likely not, so do like we do and make quesadillas at home for the kids and let them eat a little guacamole and chips as a side or you can share an order of food also.

4. Much like the previous tip, the portion sizes are ridiculous these days and WAY more than one person needs in one sitting. I ask for extra rice because it’s free, and I can make 3 meals out of one bowl.

5. Find some add ins or sides from home. We usually do chips from home and add some carrots and grapes for sides. Or if you’re ordering a pizza, skip the breadsticks and make a salad at home with it instead.

6. Look for promotions! Chipotle was doing BOGO for wearing a youth soccer jersey this weekend, so I dressed my soccer star in his and got a free bowl for it. I know Chick-Fil-A does similar dress like a cow promotions. This makes it fun also, because you can dress ridiculous and get some crazy second looks from people.

7. Join the rewards program. Don’t get me wrong..don’t use the rewards program as an excuse to eat out all the time, but if you can earn a free entree down the road for when you do plan to order, then take full advantage of that. If you’re like me and get excited and forget, Chipotle has a way to upload receipts afterwards. (as long as you do it within 30 days of ordering)

8. Do carry out. If you dine in, you are more likely to get pressured into adding on drinks, appetizers, and desserts that you don’t need. Also, you will need to add a minimum of a 20% tip, and tipping is also something you have to do for delivery. So avoid it and go grab your food and take it to the park or take it home to eat. Save the fancy sit down meals for extra special occasions, like an anniversary or birthday.

Those are some of my secrets to saving money while still getting your favorite fast food fix. What are some ways you save when eating out?!